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Who is Responsible for the Opioid Epidemic?

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The answer to that question is of course multifaceted. But one part of the answer is, not surprisingly, the drug companies who profit handsomely by flooding the nation with opioids.

Drug wholesalers sent 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into West Virginia over six years, according to an investigation by the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Meanwhile, 1,728 West Virginians died from overdoses of these two powerful painkillers.

780 million pills. Is that all? And only 1728 deaths? Well, so much potential profit in getting that up to 2000! And the whole thing is just super sketchy:

1. What was the biggest surprise for you?

Drug wholesalers shipped enough painkillers to provide 433 pills for every man, woman and child in the state, Eyre said. And in parts of the southern West Virginia coalfields, the numbers were even higher.

“I was surprised that some of the smallest pharmacies had some of the biggest numbers,” Eyre said. For example, nearly 9 million hydrocodone pills to one pharmacy in Kermit, W.Va., population 392.

“In Oceana, one pharmacy received 600,000 – 700,000 oxycodone pills a year. The Rite Aid six blocks away gets 6,000.”

2. Did the drug wholesalers do anything illegal?

“They have a legal obligation to report these suspicious orders to the (federal) Drug Enforcement Agency,” and to the state Board of Pharmacy, Eyre said.

For years, none of them did. But after a lawsuit was filed by former state Attorney General Darrell McGraw, some wholesalers began to send suspicious order reports to the Board of Pharmacy.

3. What did the Board of Pharmacy do with those reports of suspicious orders from the drug wholesalers?

They put them in a box, Eyre said. They did not tell law enforcement or even tally the information on a computer.

Eyre asked the board’s director about this: “He said the law does not prescribe what they’re supposed to do with the suspicious report, only that they’re supposed to be filed.”

Now, the board is considering sharing these with the State Police or Attorney General.

What could go wrong with a system as well-regulated as this!

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